COUNTY NEWS: ‘Parental intimidation and threats’ caused head to quit

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A headteacher left her role at a Sussex primary school following ‘parental intimidation and threats’ in a row over the school’s sports days, it has been claimed.

Parents at Dudley Infant Academy, in Harold Road, were informed via letter last week that associate principal Danielle Crossinggum has resigned.

The frank letter said the school had been ‘put under considerable pressure from a small number of parents who are not happy with the school or how it is run’.

It continues: “The reasons that we are under fire are because we did not hold a sports day - although three dates were planned before the weather took over.”

There has also been a row over the school’s PE equipment, as the academy sought financial support to update its equipment for the Multi-Use Games Area, leading to the academy being ‘accused of not providing resources for our children’.

The letter said the school received ‘constant parental intimidation and threats... if we don’t do as some parents wish’.

The letter, signed by executive principal Jane Ireland said: “I am sure that if a lay person kept questioning and challenging your every move in your professional life you would feel unwarranted, additional stress.”

It acknowledged the majority of parents were ‘supportive and understanding’.

Chair of governors, Alex Campbell, said the actions of the group of parents ‘shows a lack of respect for the leadership of this school’.

The letter was accompanied by the school’s nine-page Parent and Visitor Code of Conduct Policy.

Two parents contacted the Observer in support of Miss Crossinggum.

They said: “They are actually making her quit her job over this.

“The school had to miss sports day because of the weather.

“She could do nothing about that.

“If she had held the sports day and a child got hurt, then it would have been her fault.”

The school was rated ‘good’ in its last Ofsted report in 2013 - before it became an academy.

The school is now run by the Hastings Academies Trust.

A spokesperson for the Trust said: “We are fully aware of the situation at Dudley Infant Academy including the resignation of Miss Crossinggum.”

Some parents at Dudley Infant Academy have complained to Ofsted, the Education Funding Agency and the Local Authority Designated Officer about the school.

The Local Authority Designated Officer, or LADO, provides advice and guidance to employers and other individuals/organisations who have concerns relating to an adult who works with children and young people or who is in a position of authority and having regular contact with children.

East Sussex County Council confirmed a complaint had been received and that it was in discussion with the Hastings Academies Trust.

An ESCC spokesman said: “We have been contacted in relation to concerns resulting from the resignation of a member of staff at an academy in East Sussex.

“We take these concerns very seriously and are in touch with senior management of the academy’s trust and will explore how this situation can be addressed.”

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